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Garden Trip A Total Team Effort For Wellesley Girls

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By Josh Perry
Hometown Weekly Staff

Getting the opportunity to step onto the parquet and to play at the TD Garden, home to the Boston Celtics and potentially to the state semifinals for whichever team gets through the South sectional, is not something that many high school basketball players get to experience.

With that in mind, on Sunday morning against Needham in the third annual GoodSports Invitational, Wellesley girls’ basketball coach Glen Magpiong made it a priority to allow all 15 players on his roster to get ample playing time and as the clock was winding down in the fourth quarter to get all 15 players on his roster on the score sheet.

In the final minutes, junior Leo Sperling knocked down a shot and it was mission accomplished for the Raiders as every member of the team can now say that she has scored at the Garden.

“Goosebumps, goosebumps,” said Magpiong about that moment. “When I first met [organizer] Steve [Gibbs] and we did it on the boys’ side, I said I want to let you know I’m going to play everyone because this is a memory.”

“He said the other team may not; the opposing team may play to win. I said, trust me we’re going to play to win but I’m playing everybody because this is a moment.”

When Sperling scored, the bench erupted. All the players buying into Magpiong’s approach and appreciating the fact that they had shared this experience together.

He said, “I think if you look at the back of their shirts and the hashtag, #BOS, they’re a ‘Band of Sisters.’ It was unbelievable. It’s the perfect ending to the day.”

Wellesley senior captain Caroline Sullivan added, “We looked up at the score and no one had more than six points but we were up in the 40s and it just shows that when everyone contributes how well we can play and how good of a team we really are.”

The Raiders won the game 52-33, but as an endowment game it will not count towards either team’s final record or tournament standing. This was more about the experience. By playing the game at 8:30, the programs were able to get time on the court beforehand and allowed the freshmen and JV teams to play as well as have performances by the schools’ dance teams.

“As a kid, you come to the games and you watch it but to actually be out on the floor is just a once in a lifetime experience,” said Sullivan.

Fellow captain Emma Ivey added, “I thought it was really cool; really surreal. Looking up at the stands, I always get the nosebleed seats when I come here, so it was a different perspective.”

The game began with a special moment for Needham, as injured captain Megan Wentworth was allowed a layup off the opening tip. Out for the season with a knee injury, Wentworth was also given the chance to participate in the experience of being at the Garden and Needham coach Amanda Sheehy was grateful to Magpiong for his willingness to allow the basket.

“It wasn’t even a question of the rivalry; there was no question at all,” said Sheehy. “He’s probably one of my favorite coaches I’ve ever coached against in that I know he understands all of this high school basketball goes beyond just winning games.”

Coming off a close loss against Braintree, widely considered the No. 1 team in the state and the two-time defending state champion, Wellesley held an optional practice on Saturday. Magpiong explained that there was no judgement; it was purely up to the players if they wanted to attend.

All of them showed. “They love it,” he said. “Chemistry is huge. I really believe that.”

He was asked what he said to his team to try to keep emotions in check on Sunday morning. Magpiong replied, “I talked about that on Friday night against Braintree. I didn’t care if your emotions were high [today].”

“I just said live in the moment because this doesn’t happen very often. We hope it happens later in the year, but enjoy it. If you have an opportunity, stick it; if you have an opportunity, shoot it…and these guys took it seriously because they were sticking NBA threes.”

Wellesley is back in action this week against Newton North and Walpole.

See more photos from the TD Garden at
https://hometownweekly.smugmug.com/Wellesley/Wellesley-School-Sports/Wellesley-Needham-girls.

Josh Perry is an Editor at Hometown Weekly. He can be reached at news@hometownweekly.net and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

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